When Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955) was at an old age and already famous, hewas once asked in an interview what –in his opinion- he owed his sharp eye to, thanks to which he discovered penicillin. Fleming, harking back to his past life, had to turn back to his childhood: “In the place where I grew up (at Lochfield farm, near Darvel, in East Ayrshirein Scotland,there was not a school. Every day I had to cross a little forest, then sail a lake on a boat, climb a hill, and then descend it to finally arrive at the place where our school was –a distance of about 4 kilometres. And I had to do that every single day! While I was walking, I used to observe everything. Besides, I had nothing better to do. I used to watch the trees, the plants, I met the animals of the forest, the fish that floated near our boat… And all that, while seasons were alternating with each other. Now –after all these years- I can realise that it is that route –going to school and coming back home- that taught me to be observant and watchful about what I see”.
That is what Fleming said. And it is true, eye-opening, and insightful. Nature is a great teacher. It can teach us the significance of slow pace, which is the normal one by the way. Besides, every great thing requires a slow pace –at least in the beginning. As a Modern Greek proverb says, «Ὅποιος βιάζεται, σκοντάφτει» = “Whoever hastes, they stumble” (Meaning: “Haste makes waste”)!
Perhaps the most important problem of children, but also of adults, nowadays, is the following: the undue speediness, which does not allow us to pay attention to anything, does not let us penetrate anything, persevere until we fully comprehend it. It is a characteristic which we have obtained because of our being overdependent on technology. That problem is exacerbated during childhood. Therefore, we can see that when children (of course, not all of them!) are asked to do whatever requires a slow pace (e.g. reading, studying, creative activities), they expostulate arguing that: “I don’t like that”, “It doesn’t suit my personality”, “I can’t understand that”, and many more.
It is true that our addiction to speediness has doomed us to a lack of depth and a superficiality which determines our behaviour, our interests, and the way we deal with various circumstances.
Is there a solution? Yes, there is, but not a magic one. We should gradually disengage from technology addiction and simultaneously introduce to everyday life –both our own and our children’s- activities and interests which are compatible with real life and not with the virtual world of televisions, smartphones, and social media (e.g. reading, sport, participation to the family life, taking initiative, creative activities…).